ERIE — First-year head coach Molly Creek took over the Erie volleyball program in the midst of a momentous upswing, which you won't catch her complaining about any time soon.
The Tigers have posted 15 or more wins in each of the past two seasons and have shown no signs of regressing or even letting up midway through the 2017 campaign.
While it remains unlikely that Erie will catch fifth-ranked Holy Family (12-2, 7-0 Tri-Valley) for the Tri-Valley League title, the Tigers (11-4, 4-3 Tri-Valley) entered the weekend slotted 20th in the latest Class 4A RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) standings and appear destined for a playoff berth. On Saturday, they made short work of the visiting Elizabeth Cardinals (3-8) to the tune of a 25-11, 25-14, 25-20 victory that kept the Tigers rolling towards their third consecutive regionals appearance.
"We're happy with the season so far but there are always things you can improve on," Creek said. "I'm trying to get this culture where we're never complacent. So if we have a huge five-set win against a top 5 team, we come in the gym the next day and get right back at it. We want to play the same way against every team and we want to control the momentum on our side of the net while still being prepared for our opponents as well."
Saturday's win was the Tigers' fifth in a row. Dating back to Sept. 9, the team's only loss in its last 10 matches came against Holy Family on Sept. 12. Tigers senior middle blocker Mya Michaelson, who leads the Tri-Valley in hitting percentage, led the way with 16 kills against Elizabeth.
Though the Tigers dominated the first two sets easily, Creek wasn't thrilled with how they let the visiting Cardinals back into the third set and even trailed early on.
"We've been focusing a lot on mental toughness and not letting teams back in it at all, especially in our home gym," Creek said. "We used a bunch of different lineups today, too, because we want to be prepared for adversity. I was not happy with how we started and how we played in the third set. If we can keep them to less than 15 points in the first two, the third set should be even less than that."
The Tigers will need to be sharper when they're back at home against Windsor (7-5, 6-1 Tri-Valley) on Tuesday.
"It went pretty well today," Tigers junior Sydney Crites said. "We still could have played better. We've been doing pretty well this season and we just want to keep playing together as a team and having fun."
Erie 3, Elizabeth 0
At Erie H.S.Elizabeth (3-9) 111420
Erie (11-4) 252525
Kills — Erie: Michaelson 16, Crites 9, Crawford 6, Hahn 4, Kurz 3, Casillas.
Blocks — Erie: Hahn, Small, Crites.
Assists — Erie: Casillas 21, Amend 18.
Aces — Erie: Amend 5, Crites 2, Kurz, Beltz.
Digs — Erie: Beltz 21, Crites 12, Purcell 9, Amend 4, Kurz 3, Michaelson 3, Crawford 2, Small, Casillas 2, Hahn.